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Family Cancer Risk Program

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If your provider has referred you
for genetic testing, call


When it comes to cancer, we believe knowledge is power. That’s why Baystate Health offers genetic counseling and testing for women with a family history of breast cancer or with a personal history of benign breast disease. Our goal is to provide the right test, to the right person, at the right time.

Once we know your genetic risk, we’ll work with you to make a plan for preventing breast cancer and supporting long-term breast health.

Our team of medical oncologists and genetic counselors will help you navigate what can be a complex process. We provide valuable details about your genetic makeup and clarity on what to do next.


We can test your genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer with a blood test. The screening looks for mutations on your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. These genes make proteins that can help stop tumors. If either of them is mutated (altered) and not working properly, your risk for breast and ovarian cancer increases.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer, you’ll probably want to have the genetic test done before you start breast cancer treatment. The results of the test may change your care plan and guide decisions you make about treatment.

Whether or not you are found to be at genetic risk, we’ll give you a comprehensive consultation that addresses genetics and provides you with a personalized plan for your risk reduction. This may include recommendations for the frequency of screening procedures, information about chemopreventive agents (drugs used to prevent or delay cancer), and education about lifestyle strategies.

Before Testing

If you are referred for genetic testing, our navigator will work with you by phone or secure email to gather:

  •  A three-generation family cancer history
  •  Information about family members who have had genetic testing
  •  Copies of those test results

Once the information has been collected, your integrated team meets to tailor an individual plan for you. Based on your chance of carrying a gene mutation, you will be scheduled for genetic counseling. The team may recommend that one of your family members have testing first. The best testing laboratory is selected and medical insurance requirements are reviewed. In many cases, the testing process begins immediately after the genetic counseling appointment

After Testing

If your tests reveal a genetic mutation:

  •  You will meet with a genetic counselor to discuss your results.
  •  You will meet with a medical oncologist to develop strategies for cancer risk reduction and surveillance. This may include follow-up in our High Risk Screening Program.

If your tests do not reveal a gene mutation, you may still be at increased risk of developing cancer due to family history or other factors.

  •  You will receive counseling from a nurse practitioner to discuss other factors that may still put you at higher risk.
  •  The nurse practitioner may recommend additional screenings.
  •  You may receive follow-up care through our High Risk Screening Clinic.

Women who are found to be at high risk for breast cancer may choose to have regular follow-up in the High Risk Clinic at the Baystate Breast & Wellness Center.

Regular Follow-Up in the High Risk Clinic Includes:

  • Coordinated annual follow-up visits. You will have same-day appointments for a clinical breast exam and digital mammography, with copies of your reports sent to your primary care provider and/or your women's health provider as you request.
  • Enhanced screening. We may use breast MRI and interpretation if necessary, based on guidelines agreed upon by the Baystate Breast Health Network.
  • Prompt referral. If any concerns arise, we’ll promptly refer you to a breast surgeon.

No test can predict when and if you will have cancer. However, our team of certified genetics counselors and medical oncologists can give you the information you need to make the best decisions for your future health.

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